Fanfiction Website Archive of Our Own Inaccessible in China
posted on by Kim Morrissy
The fanfiction hosting website Archive of Our Own reported on Twitter on Sunday that is currently inaccessible in China. In a statement to Vox, the Organization for Transformative Works clarified that "the connection issue does not originate with the AO3 or Archive of Our Own and appears to originate within China itself." It also stressed that no content is being removed from the site, and that the issue is a matter of internet availability.
Users have reported that the site has been inaccessible from China since February 29. Although the organization states that it has received no contact from the Chinese authorities, some users speculate that the site may have been blocked in China due to the country's recent crackdown on “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content," including homosexual relationships. In 2016, the Chinese government created guidelines for television which state that “No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviors, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.”
In 2014, Anhui TV reported that at least 20 young female authors writing boys-love novels on an online novel website were arrested, and in 2018, a BL author received a 10-year and six month prison sentence for "obscenely describing male and female homosexuals" and for "violence, abuse, vulgarity, and other behaviors related to sexual perversion." In 2018, Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo banned gay-themed content, but reversed the decision after outcry and protest from the Chinese gay community and LGBTQ advocates.
Other users of Archive of Our Own have speculated that fans of the Chinese actor Xiao Zhan reported the site, which hosts a number of sexually explicit fanfiction about Xiao Zhan and his co-actors, to government censors.
Archive of Our Own launched its open beta in 2009. The site won the Hugo Award for Best Related Work in 2019. As of March 2020, the site hosts over 5.7 million stories across over 36,000 fandoms.
Source: Vox (Aja Romano)